Japan: Unificationists Accuse Christian Pastors of Participation in Forced “Deprogramming”

From a press release:

A respected Buddhist priest in Japan has called for Japanese authorities to prosecute those responsible for kidnapping and imprisoning members of the Unification Church. In an official letter to a Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution assisting the state prosecutor dated March 14, Rev. Dohki Mihara, a Sotoshu Buddhist priest, wrote:  “Getting to know about Mr. Toru Goto’s case of religious kidnapping and confinement that lasted for 12 years and 5 months, a case which was clearly based on a purpose to break his faith in the Unification Church, I felt deep despair and grief to find out that Japan, although calling itself a cultured nation, has not acquired human decency, common sense in respect for human rights, or the basic attitude of democratic nation.”

Mr. Goto’s case was dismissed by Tokyo prosecutors with no indictments but will now be considered by a citizens’panel empowered to re-open the case.

..Rev. Mihara is the former president of the Religionists Forum, an ecumenical association of Buddhist, Christian, and Shinto religious leaders in Miyazaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. He was speaking to the fact that since 1969 more than 4,300 members of the Unification Church have been kidnapped and confined by misguided relatives and opponents of the church. As has been reported, some of the victims have been beaten, sexually assaulted or tortured while in captivity.

Goto’s story was included in the 2008 US State Department Report on International Religious Freedom:

According to representatives from the Unification Church, a member of their congregation was abducted by his family and held in captivity for more than 12 years in an attempt to “deprogram” him. Four months after his escape, police had not opened an investigation into the case.

…According to representatives of the Unification Church, approximately 10 to 20 practitioners were forcibly “deprogrammed” by concerned family members during the reporting period, and in most cases, the believers “quickly gave up their faith.”

According to a Unificationist website:

Toru and several other victims of kidnapping and psychological torture were quoted in a series of articles in Sekai Nippo during the last week of June 2009. Despite many cases in Japan having been reported to the police over the last decade or more, no cases have been prosecuted yet. …Toru was kidnapped and suffered faith-breaking efforts twice, first in 1987 and again in 1995, he told the newly formed Association to abolish Deprogramming in February. Alarmed by hateful accusations and claims against new religions, his parents had hired Mr. Shun Miyamura, a professional kidnapper who called himself a “deprogrammer.” In the first episode of kidnapping Toru pretended to recant his faith. …Soichiro Kobayashi, 37, says he was abducted and assaulted three times since he joined the church in 1992. …Dr. Hirohisa Koide, 46, a physician, told Sekai Nippo how he had been abducted and held in confinement for two years, also by Miyamura, beginning in June 1992. His book, Escaping the Kidnappers, was published in 1999 but was shunned by book distributors influenced by intolerant critics of the church.

Goto’s testimony can be seen here. It includes the following:

…my brother started working for the company that was managed by Shun Miyamura, the professional deprogrammer who de-converted him. Together, with Miyamura, my brother came to work vigorously to “deprogram” members. He eventually married a woman, who like him, was a former-member and had been de-converted through abduction and confinement.

…As I examined the room, all the windows were equipped with a special lock on the inside and were securely locked so they could not be opened… A few days later, Minister Matsunaga Toridechi of the Niitsu Evangelical Christian Church brought several former Unification Church members and they repeatedly criticized and denounced the UC movement.

A report here has the same details, alothough names have changed slightly: the deprogrammer is “Takashi Miyamura”, and the evangelical minister is “Yasutomo Matsunaga” of the Japanese Alliance Christian Council and the “Niizu Good News Christian Church”.

A further report has the testimony of Sayuri Hara:

In early June 1992, two former members of the Unification Church visited my parents and persuasively spoke to them for many hours saying, “Please cooperate in converting Sayuri.” My mother went to see Pastor Shikae Kurotori and was introduced to Pastor Kyoko Kawasaki of the Tanimura Church, in a Japanese Christian denomination. On June 24, 1992, I visited my home in Yamanashi. After eating out, we were about to go home, and I was seated in a back seat of a vehicle. My father drove the car… I was taken to the Yoshida Business Hotel, to room 307, and held hostage there… By overhearing my parents’ conversations, I learned that my parents contacted and received directions from Pastor Kyoko Kawasaki on numerous occasions during the day. In the hotel room, Pastor Kyoko Kawasaki pressed me to withdraw from the Unification Church for four days, for over 10 hours a day.

Members of the church have been holding protests to hightlight their complaint. In February, there was a march in Ogikubo in Tokyo. The location was significant:

The late Pastor Satoshi Moriyama, who came up with the idea of abduction, confinement and forced disavowal towards Unificationist members, was the Pastor of Ogikubo Eiko Church located in Ogikubo, Suginami Ward. Therefore, this area is where it all started, and Mr. Toru Goto was also confined in the Ogikubo area and Niigata for 12 years and 5 months from Sept.11, 1995 to Feb. 10, 2008. Mr. Shun Miyamura, one of the masterminds of Mr. Goto’s confinement case, manages a company in the vicinity of Ogikubo as well.

There was also a protest in April in Okayama; according to a report here:

On April 18, 2010, over 150 members of the Unification Church and supporters of religious freedom marched in Kurashiki City in Okayama Prefecture, near Japan’s west coast, to publicly accuse a local Japanese minister of complicity in the kidnapping and unlawful confinement of members of the Unification Church in often failed attempts to force them to abandon their faith.Unification Church Website in Japan, Pastor Masaharu Takayama, the head of the Kurashiki Grace Christian Church, attempted without success to break the faith of a Unification Church member last year.

…”Christian ministers usually receive a payment from the parents of victims when they are asked to de-convert the victims,” according to Shunsuke Uotani, an official of the Universal Peace Federation in Japan. The faith-breaking victim was a young lady from Tottori Prefecture…

Three days later, some female Japanese members held a press conference in Seoul. The New York Post has some pictures here; according to the commentary:

Japanese members of the Unification Church who are married to South Korean men take part in a news conference in Seoul April 21, 2010. The Unification Church members want the South Korean and Japanese governments to ensure they are safe to return to Japan as they fear their relatives might forcibly detain them and make them renounce their religion. The Korean characters on the yellow sash read,”Please free us from fears of detention and kidnapping”.

Some purported historical background is given here, although this is a partial account which conflates kidnapping with other aspects of Christian opposition to the movement (as well as Communist opposition); one would like to see some actual evidence, or at least an authoritative reference, to support the claim that Moriyama – a fierce critic of Rev Moon – supported kidnapping:

The first period began in 1966, when Rev. Satoshi Moriyama labeled the Unification Church “heretical” from his perspective as an evangelical Christian, and began using abduction and confinement as tactics to force individual Unification Church members to renounce their faith. On July 7, 1967, the evening edition of Asahi Shimbun, a major Japanese daily newspaper, published an article titled, Unification Movement Brings Tears to Parents. The article fanned the anxiety of parents with adult children in the Unification Church, and some sought out Moriyama for advice. This led to an increase in forced renunciation attempts. In March 1976, Rev. Moriyama held a four-day seminar at the Hachioji University Seminar House in Tokyo titled “Seminar on Counter Measures against the Unification Association” to instruct other Christian ministers on his method of confining Unification Church members and convincing them to renounce their faith. 

During the second period, from 1976 to 1987, many Christian ministers, primarily from evangelical churches, joined Moriyama’s efforts, leading to a sharp rise in forced renunciation attempts. These ministers included Rev. Takeo Funada, Rev. Mamoru Takazawa, Rev. Shinya Waga and Rev. Hisoka Murakami. 

…Hiroko Tomizawa, who was abducted during the storming of the Tottori church [in 1997] and confined for a year and three months, and Rie Imari, who was abducted off the street, brought civil suits against the ministers involved in their respective cases. Following this, the number of attempted forced renunciations gradually declined. 

The Christian minister involved in Mrs. Tomizawa’s case admitted in court that she had been confined involuntarily, and the court ruled in her favor. The minister involved in Mrs. Imari’s case refused to make such an admission, and the court ruled against her.

14 Responses

  1. Thank you for covering the issue of kidnapping/confinement
    of Unification Church members in Japan. My organization has been dealing with this problem for more than a decade. We are glad to see it is beginning to receive coverage.

  2. It is a surprise that these blatant abuses have been permitted by the Japanese government. I thought kidnapping was a universally recognized crime, particularly in developed nations.

    It is also a black eye for the traditional Christian churches that are creating new members by the most unchristian methods imaginable. Religious practice should be an appeal to conscience, not coercion. That marriages are being destroyed and parents are persuaded to commit crimes against their own adult children is truly evil.

    Thank you for bringing attention to this issue.

  3. No one supports people being held against their wills, however…

    Religious practice should be an appeal to conscience, not coercion.

    That is just fall down funny coming from someone in support of the UC.

    You’re taking a very serious subject and making it hilarious.

    parents are persuaded to commit crimes

    Now I can’t stay in my chair.

    What do you think the UC does when it gets members in Japan to run the elaborate scams swindling the people of Japan out of hundreds of millions, likely, billions of dollars? Literally targeting widows with their scams? Japan, as acknowledged by the UC, has for decades been the primary source of cash for Moon. His “theology” conveniently teaches that Japan, as the “Eve” nation, must fund Moon’s plot. But there is no mention in all the Moon propaganda that I see on the “abductions” about the UC’s history in Japan. No, that would be being honest – telling the background.

    10 of the 12 links in Richard’s post are to UC promoters and apologists. None that I saw mention the way the UC has abused the people of Japan to give the story some perspective.

    The first link is to a follower’s site, then you have Fefferman’s site dedicated to protecting the UC. There are links to the UC “Kidnapping” site that reprint an article from Moon’s Japanese paper, the Washington Times of Japan, if you will. Then there is Mr. Peavy’s site. Peavy is a supporter and promoter Moon’s messianic mission and takes Moon press releases and info fed directly to him by the UC, repackages them and posts them. He is tied to, imo, the most discernment free group of “Christian” ministers in the world, through the Moon directed ACLC. The “Ecumenical Examiner” takes what Moon’s scribes tell him, posts it, then the UC links to it with cries of “the media is picking this up.” I am sure it will work but It is just dishonest.

    This is not conflating two issues – the history of the UC in Japan and abductions. They are intertwined and besides, Kook Jin made it plain the reason for this is to dodge criticism over the swindling when he almost apologized to the people of Japan before he changed subjects to this in mid statement and decided it is Japan’s fault.

    One UC member on another post said he wished the people of Japan would quit letting themselves be used like this. What a sad statement. The people of Japan are swindled, exploited.

    UC members know how Hyung Jin openly admits that the UC has “dehumanized” the members in Japan. Why not mention that in the propaganda? He boasts about how one Japanese family now lives in a small apartment after they sold everything they owned and gave it all to Moon. Hyung Jin held up as a high example of “faith” that they sold their homes and even cashed in their children’s college fund and their insurance policies. In a surreal shift, he says that the people in Japan don’t want to give their homes to Moon anymore than members from other countries but they do so while in tears. While in tears. He says many sleep in the churches. He talked about how UC members outside of Japan make fun of the Japanese. How they say that Japan is supposed to suffer for occupying Korea (the “Fatherland”) during WW2.

    It’s disgusting. Beyond disgusting. This is the group that claims to “live for the sake of others” and is run by a living “messiah.” What a crock.

    The UC has what? About twenty, thirty thousand members to use for swindling, manipulating and deceiving the people of Japan and you are surprised there are families that would do anything they could to get their loved ones out of Moon’s control, no matter how misguided the method is?

    From 1999:


    5. Among the Japanese followers of the Unification Church (estimated at 20,000 people), over half have quit their jobs, left their families, and are living in a cooperative with followers.

    All day long, they are forced to do fund-raising by committing illegal acts such as swindling through a fraudulent missionary work and spiritual sales.

    The Moon organization knows full well these kidnapping instances are RARE today. Fefferman has said that in so many words, Moon’s UPI has reported that compared to 15-20 years ago it is rare. Steve Hassan, well known and respected in Japan, made a statement many years ago to Japan saying deprogramming was wrong, that other methods should be used to help a loved one out of Moon’s group. Most have obviously followed his advice.

    But this whole deal isn’t about abductions, it’s Kook Jin and Hyung Jin working to change the subject from the ongoing swindling arrests of UC members in Japan(the head of the UC resigned last year to try to take some heat off) and further exploit the people of Japan by using Goto as a recruiting tool.

    Fefferman, based on the numbers, your work the last 15 years has born fruit. Why are you letting the schismatic duo in Korea hijack your work to dodge the swindling heat and use it as a recruiting tool? Plainly this is being overblown with intent to do so. Robroy would not be happy with you.

    The UC should pack up and leave the poor people of Japan alone. Just get out of the country. Leave! The UC has abused and exploited them long enough. Why not try to actually “live for the sake of others” by apologizing then put about ten billion in a fund to pay back the people you swindled the last 50 years. Give another billion or so to continue to help your victims and create organizations that warn people against being swindled by groups like the UC.

    • Oh, did you notice this quote from the Moon site in Richard’s post?

      since 1969 more than 4,300 members of the Unification Church have been kidnapped

      Even if you believe their figures, the overwhelming majority of that number were from many years ago.

      Today it is rare, but the UC’s new recruiting poster boy met with the “Messiah” and the “Second Coming” used the opportunity to lie about the numbers.

      At this meeting, True Parents said that more than 10,000 church members in Japan have been kidnapped… (Kidnap Victim Toru Goto Meets True Parents …Sun Myung Moon …April 23, 2010)

      Reminds me of the recent Forbes article that quoted the follower as saying there are 300,000 members in Korea, a figure often quoted and given by the UC. But Hyung Jin has plainly stated a few times that membership dropped from 16,000 in the 60s to 14,000 in 2005.

      It’s one reason they must fleece the widows in Japan.
      After 60 years, the UC in its homeland, the “Fatherland” as they refer to it, cannot support itself there. Nor can the “church” in any other country, they are all subsidised by Japan. Hyung Jin said recently they stopped this subsidy for the Korean church but then again, what can you believe about an organization that boasts that the former director of the KCIA does their books?

      Is there anything about the UC that is not rooted in deception?

  4. mw, the frame that you put on this matter speaks as much of your own narrow perspective as it does about anything else. Take, for example, “forced to do fundraising” “illegal acts” “swindling” “fraudulent missionary works” etc. Just this one sentence asserts a lot that cannot be supported. “forced”? by what means? “Illegal acts” – don’t you think the police would be involved if crimes were committed? “swindling” – asserts a selfish and immoral motive “fraudulent missionary works”, etc.
    I lived in Japan for many years, and I know the reality that I observed each day to be completely at contrast to your misrepresentation.
    I think it is healthy that the UC is beginning to reflect on some of its practices that have been, perhaps, misguided or inappropriate. All religions, groups, societies, etc, make mistakes, and require reflection and self-examination in order to improve.
    Unfortunately, over-the-top characterizations such as the one you offer here do little to help that process along. If anything, its simply the opposite side of extremism. Perhaps you might recognize that such a highly emotional perspective is a likely indication that the view is actually less than objective.
    At any rate, kidnapping is a severe crime, and as far as I know, the UC in Japan or elsewhere has never been prosecuted or investigated for such. Saying that UC practices justify such means is simply a knee-jerk excuse for perpetuating extreme prejudice and an inability to find a balanced, constructive perspective. In my opinion.
    Be well.

    • mw is apparently another venting “how-could-you-mom-and-dad?” blogger. Not a very constructive outlet, but surely better than some. Peace.

  5. This is how the Holocaust in Germany started. Make it “okay” for ordinary citizens to not give a darn when human rights abuses occur because it happens to an unpopular minority group.

    Will the death toll have to reach 6million unificationists and over 5 million of other unpopular groups, before the world gives a darn?

    “First They Came for the Jews”
    By Pastor Niemoller

    First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  6. […] 米国で、日本の曹洞宗の高僧が、過去4300人もの特定団体会員が拉致監禁された件に関し、検察審査会に要望書を送付したことがプレスリリースされました。その概要を「Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion」より翻訳します。まず、プレスリリースについてご紹介します。 […]

  7. May God Bless you and your esteem working Minitry.
    Rev. Romail Yousaf
    Trinity Outreach Ministries Pakistan
    email: tompakistan@gmail.com

  8. The West might never understand the East and vice versa, but . . .

    when mw calls the UC (an Eastern-rooted new religious movement) “deceptive” he betrays a huge bias (and need), while possibly missing — something.

    For also alluded to in this dilemma are certain elements (or needs) of ego and boastfulness, bordering on arrogance – things that even God, Americans, Koreans and especially the Japanese, apparently, have in common and abundance.

    As for the tragedy at hand here, who truly undertands the victim but the victim?

    Time and time again, history seems to further reinforce the concept that It is virtually a constant of human nature, more often than not, to simply show up late.

    So, welcome all to the party, late (again).

    Someday, long from now, perchance, we’ll finally get it right.

  9. mw reminds me of the incredible media machine and individual bias that the Japanese people have been fed for the past few decades. I looked at news report after news report from Japan’s reputable news agencies, and saw some of the most flagrant fear-mongering possible. One news bulletin spoke of how the ‘Moonies’ church was raided by police’. The report then went on to elaborate on what they were searching for, from those ‘illegal scams’ to ‘arms trafficking’. It sounded quite compelling, and scary, but then the news bulletin finished. They never mentioned that the police didn’t find any such evidence at all, simply a bunch of church documents related to membership rolls and whatnot. However, all that stays in your mind is that the police suspects the church of ‘illegal scams’ and ‘arms trafficking’, regardless of the fact that they found nothing to imply that. It gets extremely ridiculous when a regular japanese citizen musters up the courage to ask you if your church really drinks blood (a rumor that ironically started about Christian churches in the middle ages), and then refuses to believe you when you express disgust at the idea, since all Moonies are obviously liars. The culture of the nation has forced a catch-22 that all these minority religions cannot win, every mistake from decades ago is blown out of proportion, and the average member is caught in the crossfire. These deprogrammings are only a symptom of the problem (and it pains me to say this because I’m Japanese) that Japan has not protected its minority religions well enough over its history or its present.

    • Matthew,

      I suggest you go back and review Hyung, Elder, and Kook’s reports on the aftermath of the swindling raids from 2009 and just prior. I saw a report one of them made a year or so ago. They stated that 130 members were arrested and they list the convictions/fines for many of them. Kook has admitted what they were doing was wrong and pledged to find a new way for Japan to fulfil her “mission” as the “Eve nation,” as defined by the delusional “messiah”. For any readers who don’t know what that means – Moon simply declared it was God’s will that Japan fund his being the Messiah. Based on many reports, the UC and its followers have been fleecing the nation of Japan to fund its activities for decades.

      I believe the membership lists you toss off as nothing important actually are quite important since what the UC is being charged with is breaking consumer law and using the sales info to recruit.

      Here’s a link to just one report of many on the swindling of Japan. In this article one UC leader even admits taking all of a person’s assets was “excessive” but according to Hyung, the UC is still doing it 15 years later.


      Matthew, when your new leader tells you about how he met a Japanese family that “donated” everything they owned while in “tears” because, as he says, they are like all UC members and they did NOT want to “donate” their home, car and kids college funds – how do you just ignore things like that? You know this is true. What kind of mind does it take to tell yourself that this is a respectable organization?

      Matthew, I understand this video


      has been used in court in Japan – can you translate it for me? I am told it is a UC leader badgering recruits into signing over their assets to the Moon organization.

      You do know your “messiah” said Japan must fund his political, business and influencing activities, don’t you?

      Being Japanese, what do you think when Hyung admits that there has been a culture in the UC to mock and make fun of the Japanese members? I know now members are not to do that, but this is many decades too late don’t you think?

  10. “musters up the courage to ask you if your church really drinks blood (a rumor that ironically started about Christian churches in the middle ages), ”

    First, I do not believe there is blood in the HW. That said, maybe the reason this is an issue is because the UC always talks about changing member’s blood lineage to SMM’s by drinking wine and early members WERE TAUGHT it had SMM’s blood in it!

    Craig Maxim:

    “In the “40 Day Training” in New York, I was instructed that Moon’s physical blood was drawn and put into the wine.”

  11. …brothers and sisters, i am proud to be a UC…and no regrets at all..what kind of faith do you have in God?..you judge people based on what others would tell you..just read the life of Jesus, and i;m sure you’ll know what kind of life we have (living a simple life with God) in the movement. did you ever ask why those people donate their properties?no, you judge them straightly without understanding their heart..live according to God’s word..only God can judge his children because he was the one who created things in this universe that we are in. you were not the one who gave life so you don’t have the right…We want only peace in our heart! please don’t prolong the pain of our creator….do you think God is happy of what you’re doing?…please have reflections if who is the one you are worshiping? what kind of heart do you have?….are you happy?…what kind of family do you have, happy or broken?…before you judge others please reflect fist…that’s all and UCM always loves you..

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